Alphabet Road Trip | the blog of Iskra Design

The Seattle Times Logo, Well Weathered Gothic

"Signs I Like" has been on a long vacation. But today I saw something I could not resist outside the Lighthouse coffee shop. I did the lettering for the Seattle Times masthead about twelve years ago, in association with Landor Seattle. Coincidentally the logo was featured in Logo Reviews a few days ago. The true test of a logo is how well does it stand the test of time? Here it is on a newspaper kiosk, rotated so you can compare it with the way it is used in the paper. I had nothing against that eagle, but I do like how abstract (and even more Gothic) this becomes without it. Perhaps someone liked it so much they tore it out to sew on their jeans:


My task was to look at every other Gothic newspaper masthead in America and come up with a subtle, very legible, fresh variation. Here is the before and after:


(I do not know who did the eagle, so unfortunately I can't credit them here.)

Masthead typography is uniquely challenging. Gothic is by its nature very difficult to read. It may look traditional and authoritative, but it is based on a completely zen principle: the space between letters and that magical yin/yang balance of darkness and light. This was a dream project. My father was publisher for eight years of the paper he started, The Auburn Citizen, which also had a Gothic masthead. This assignment connected me back through time to the long tradition of the small- town newspaper and work in the original public sphere. Websites, as convenient and up-to-the-minute as they are, do not age well; we will never admire their distressed and curling edges or how the wind transformed their serifs.

 See more typographic logotypes at Iskra Design.